Back to the Future

Chayei Sorah

Two incidents in this week’s Parsha could have been forestalled by taking advance measures.
Sarah dies, and her husband Avrohom in taking care of her funeral is desperate for a burial slot. He enters severe negotiations with Ephron, which ultimately conclude with Avrohom purchasing Meoras Hamchpelah ‘the field with the Double Cave’ for an exorbitant sum of silver.
But, thirty eight years earlier when Avrohom was paid a visit by the three angels, Avrohom was determined to feed his guests with quality meat. The young bull that Avrohom selected had different ideas and Avrohom gave chase, he eventually caught up with the animal in the Double Cave (Pirkei D’rabbi Eliezer 35). There and then Avrohom decided that this is the where he and his wife will be buried. So why did he not immediately go ahead and buy it? Why wait to until Sarah’s funeral to purchase the land?
Avrohom, on behalf of his son Yitzchok, initiates a search for a wife who would make an appropriate match. To this effect he sends his servant Eliezer on a mission to Aram to see if there is anyone available from his kin. Avrohom advises Eliezer that if this venture was to prove unsuccessful then Eliezer should search amongst the offspring of either Lot or Yishmael.
Before leaving Mt. Moriah whilst still lingering on the Mountain after the Akeidah, Avrohom was told of his brother Nachor’s offspring and his recently expanded family. Rashi comments that this lineage exercise had a sole purpose, that of informing Avrohom of one person, Yitzchok’s destined wife – Rivka. (Midrash Lekech Tov). Hence, Avrohom was already aware that a suitable spouse existed in Aram. This being the case why didn’t Avrohom just send Eliezer on a mission to retrieve Rivka?
Tzaddikim may be aware of the inner workings the world, and are sometimes privy to their own destiny, nevertheless they will not manipulate events to effect this future outcomes. Rather than rush the future along, they will let Providence unfold events, and watch the Divine will manifest itself in a natural way. Hashem has his reasons of how future potential actualizes.
The case of the Double Cave provides an excellent example. Purchase of the cave was one of the ten trials that Avrohom had to face. Were he to purchase the cave earlier based on his prophetic knowledge that this is final resting place – using information from the esoteric world – he would have circumvented the experience of this trial, and the spiritual growth that came forth in it’s wake. Avrohom would have lost, not gained by eliminating this ordeal. In a similar vein we find the Talmud tells us that when Hashem sent the Jews into exile, he made them swear that they would not hurry the final redemption in an unnatural manner. 
Foreknowledge can be harmful to their spiritual growth, because we have to grow from the things that are sent our way.

Rabbi Chaim Yosef David Azulai (1724 – 1806) commonly known as the Chida, was a noted bibliophile. The Chida was a student of Rabbi Shalom Sharabi and Rabbi Chaim Ibn Attar – the Orach Chaim.

The saintly Rabbi Shalom Sharabi together with two of his disciples, the Chida and Rabbi Chaim de la Rosa, felt that the time was right to hasten Moshiach and the final redemption. The three Tzaddikim removed themselves from all earthy matters and began fasting and self-mortification in order to sanctify and purify themselves.

One day in the winter, when a thick blanket of snow covered the city of Yerushalyim, these three Tzaddikim rolled about in the snow, praying with incredible devotion and fasting afterwards for three consecutive days. 

However, this was not the divine plan and they were admonished by a heavenly voice: “My sons, you don’t have the right to hasten the Geulah. The hour has not yet come, one of you will be exiled abroad.” Since the heavenly voice did not declare who among them would suffer this fate, they drew lots to determine who would be the candidate for exile. The lot fell on the Chida. 

Without hesitation, the Chida accepted the verdict and put himself on route for a long exile, during which time he would meet the great men of his generation and travel to many countries in Africa, Europe and even Western Europe such as France, the Netherlands, and Germany. His mammoth journeys are recorded in his sefer Ma’gal Tov.


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